AFL Gives ‘Gratuity’ to Relatives of Fallen Soldiers

first_imgThe hierarchy of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) has presented checks to family members of soldiers who died while on active duty. The ceremony, which took place recently at the Barclay Training Center (BTC), the home of the Army, brought together 20 beneficiaries to receive their government ‘gratuity’ checks. The amount, in US dollars, on each check was written based on the length of time each deceased soldier served in the army.Beneficiaries of the late soldiers who received their ‘cash’ benefits included widows and next of kin (NOK).Prior to the presentation ceremony, AFL Chief of Personnel Major Daniel Holman told the beneficiaries that the amounts represented monies the military hierarchy had set aside from the salary of each soldier for unforeseen circumstances. “Today, you will receive that amount based on the length of time your sons, husbands and loved ones stayed in the army. Nearly all of you may not receive big amounts as everyone in this present Army has not stayed more than 10 years. But we just want to say that the AFL appreciates what your husbands, brothers and sons did for the Army and their country,” Maj. Holman told the beneficiaries.AFL Command Sergeant Major Cooper Manqueh told the NOKs that the Army was giving the little tokens, “because of the valuable services their husbands, sons and brothers rendered their nation.”“We are sorry for the loss of your sons, brothers and husbands. The amounts cannot bring back life, but we just want to say that this nation appreciates the sacrifices your loved ones made for the Army and Liberia,” he added. Deputy Chief of Staff of the AFL Brigadier General Prince C. Johnson III added his voice to previous speakers by also thanking the beneficiaries for their loved ones’ services to the Army and the nation. “We cannot pay for their lives. We all came as volunteers into the Army. They served well. This is life. The One who gives is the same who takes away. On behalf of the President and Commander-In-Chief (CIC) of the AFL, the Minister of Defense and the Chief of Staff, Major General Daniel Zainkahn, we have come to appreciate the commitment from our fallen heroes and heroines, which remained irreplaceable,” B/Gen. Johnson said. “What you are going to receive cannot replace your deceased loved ones, but just to show that we appreciate the services of your husbands, sons and daughters while serving the military.” He expressed the hope that some of the children of the fallen heroes and heroines will follow their footsteps and join the Army. Noticeable among the beneficiaries was Mrs. Leona Dennis, widow of the late Deputy Chief of Staff, Colonel Eric W. Dennis, who passed away in his 48th year on August 8, 2016, from “respiratory congestion” at the Duside Hospital in Firestone, where he was seeking medical treatment following a period of illness. “On behalf of all the beneficiaries, I want to say a very big thank you to the senior authority of the AFL. For some of us today is a goodbye after we get our benefits. However, this is not a goodbye for me. As my family has always been with the Army, I will always be around the AFL,” Mrs. Dennis said.She was especially full of praises for Maj/Gen. Ziankahn for what she said was his personal support to her family when her husband died. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

They’re masters of the tap shoes

first_img Plasshaert doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, either. His current activities include teaching tennis, golf, tap, ballet and jazz dancing. A drummer at age 12, he got interested in dancing a few years later, admiring the skills of Kelly. “He danced like a man,” Plasshaert said. “I was in awe of him.” He thought working with Kelly was only a dream, a belief his former wife shared when she answered the phone and heard Kelly asking to speak with Alex. “She thought it was a joke and told him so,” Plasshaert said. “He very humbly insisted that yes, he was Gene Kelly.” Once the confusion was over, the two men agreed to meet at a studio on the Universal Studios lot, where Plasshaert had an audition that didn’t go as well as he had hoped. “He told me he’d heard a lot about me. He showed me a step,” Plasshaert said, his hands and feet twitching in the retelling. “I fumbled a step, but he asked me to come back the next day because he was looking at a few other guys. The next day, I showed up and it seemed like a thousand people were auditioning. I did every step perfect and saw Kelly in the mirror with that little grin of his. I had worked all night practicing and thought to myself, ‘At least he smiled.”‘ Kelly picked only one dancer that day, and it was Plasshaert, who did the “Hollywood Palace” show Kelly was preparing. That gig led to many others where he either danced alongside or choreographed entertainment greats such as Marilyn Monroe, Debbie Reynolds, Barbra Streisand, Louis Armstrong, Elton John and even American Gladiators. He choreographed the comedy show “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” as well as other musical variety shows such as “Mickey Finn’s” and shows for Jack Benny, Red Skelton, Andy Williams and Dom DeLuise. Duncan is most remembered for the 17 years he spent as a tap dancer on “The Lawrence Welk Show.” Although he sings as well as he dances, Duncan remembers Welk telling him he really needed just his fancy footwork for the show, which was heavy with singers. He’s performed with tap greats Sammy Davis Jr., Gregory Hines and Savion Glover, and toured with the national company of “My One and Only” with Tommy Tune. He worked with Dick Van Dyke in the film “Diagnosis of a Murder” and was spotlighted in the movie “Tap” with Hines. But now, he and his friend are members of a mutual admiration society that takes young dancers under their wings. “I can’t say enough about Alex,” Duncan said. “He is a tremendous tapper. He taps like some people would like to speak, very adroitly and very well. It’s quite a challenge and takes a special talent to be a teacher like Alex. I’m here to learn new things and tear down some bad habits. “If I had a message for young dancers, it would be to accept rejection. Dancing takes ‘stickability’ and tenacity,” he said. “There’s such a sense of gratification when you discover someone who has the knack for it.” “I’m very proud of where I’ve been,” Plasshaert chimed in. “And I’m certainly not done yet.” For information on tap classes, call the studio at (661) 252-0357. Carol Rock, (661) 257-5252 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! CANYON COUNTRY – It was like watching a street-corner challenge from decades past. Two men – both, let’s say, in their later years – are standing in front of a mirror in a Canyon Country storefront studio. One spreads out his hands for flair and starts dancing, a series of staccato taps emanating from his flying feet. His friend stands motionless just for a moment. Then the two men match steps and cadence and move almost as one, the first doing a daring move, mirrored instantly by the other. No matter that they qualify for senior discounts, these men dance like everybody’s watching. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant Alex Plasshaert and Arthur Duncan are a two-volume set of dance history. Plasshaert danced in the movie “Mary Poppins” and with athletic film star/dancer Gene Kelly; Duncan spent 17 years tap-dancing on “The Lawrence Welk Show.” They are passing on that grace to the next generation of hopeful hoofers at Pamela Johnston’s Dance Studio. “I’m old enough to know better and young enough to try it again,” Duncan said. Raised in Pasadena, he was coaxed into learning tap in junior high school when a group needed a third dancer. “I learned the routine and thought, ‘Hey, this is fun.’ The more I danced, the more I liked it,” he said. “My cousin was a musician who got me gigs with various service organizations, which covered my dance lessons. I couldn’t believe I could get paid for this.” Duncan was cast in a show at the Las Palmas Theater in Hollywood, under the direction of choreographer Nick Castle, who did the movie “Daddy Long Legs” with Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron. Plasshaert worked with Astaire, and soon his and Duncan’s paths began to cross. While Duncan’s forte was song and dance, Plasshaert specialized in a lot of things. Primarily a stuntman, he was athletic enough to play basketball and tumble in a harness in the 1960s Disney films “The Absent-Minded Professor” and “Son of Flubber.” That led him to many more Disney projects, including choreographing “The Mickey Mouse Club” and being the lead chimney sweep dancer with Dick Van Dyke in the 1964 Disney movie “Mary Poppins.” last_img read more